Sara Berzingi by Nancy Andrews Copyright 2017
Sara Berzingi

Sara Berzingi was born in Erbil, Iraq. Her family left Iraqi Kurdistan as refugees through operation Pacific Haven, which brought them to the United States in 1997. Sara and her family have called West Virginia home for a decade. She considers her family’s story a classic story of “the American Dream,” but wonders, “What does the American Dream mean now?”

Sara’s full interview is part of our 360° video series Muslim in Appalachia scheduled to launch next week. This series enables viewers to step into the worlds of Appalachian Muslims to experience what it means to navigate Muslim and Appalachian identity while challenging stereotypes of both. 

Berzingi: To be honest, I am surprised. Many of us have been wondering if Donald Trump is all talk — is he really going to do the things that he says he is? And I think this week we got the answer to that question.

I saw on Twitter the other day ”America should be allowed to focus on its own people first.” And I’ve been thinking about that for a while. Is any nation allowed to focus solely on its own people? I’m a proud, proud American with Kurdish roots, and I will stand up and say that any day. But to put that identity above the needs of others? I don’t think that we are so arrogant to believe that we should only be able to focus on our own people. I think we are capable of so much more.

In ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ Nancy Andrews presents photographs depicting the diversity of voices across Appalachia. These portraits strive to show the varied faces, passions, issues and opinions from around the region. Interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity. If you have an idea for ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ please contact Nancy Andrews on Twitter @NancyAndrews or email at nancy.andrews [at]